The Earths only solution

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Offline atbb

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The Earths only solution
« on: 24/09/2006 15:27:00 »
Hello,
          I doubt if you will agree with the following.
All the Earth's problems from global warming, pollution, wars, shortage of water and food, housing, even to the care of the elderly could be solved by huge population reduction.
Total human removal would help all the other species best, but with a
greatly reduced population we could learn to manage the Earth with
greater care.
The human population needs a large reduction, and I do not mean
culling as we sadly do to other forms of life. I would not suggest bringing
about the death of any human being in any of the barbaric ways we
remove other unwanted species of life.
Even though we are the most voracious animals on this planet we do not
need take any human life to do this.
It should be done openly through a world summit to find the best way to
encourage all of human kind to be sterilised if they wish it. Those who would
like a family, let them, the population would still go down.
It should ignore all protest.
The United Nations could do this.
It is our only hope, it is the only chance of humans living with the Earth
and not against it. Science should be able to produce a simple oral tablet
to bring sterility. With education and many outlets for the product, people
would choose to do this voluntarily. Rewards could even be given. This would
in a few decades, leave a stable, content reduced population.
The many species of life, other than the thousands we have made extinct
may then be saved.
If we do not greatly reduce the human population, then in a few decades
we will completely perish and the sad part is we will take with us millions
of other species. When we remove one species, many others may die out
that relied on its existence.
In other words we can only remove so many before it escalates out of
control and then we follow.
The extinction of any species by our hands is a crime beyond all other
crimes, as who knows what that species would have developed into in time.
Within a few years it will be too late.
David.


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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #1 on: 24/09/2006 16:26:02 »
Problems?  What problems?

Certainly, there are species that will benefit from the demise of the human species, but others that will suffer badly.  Humans have made substantial changes to their environment, and some species (e.g. grasses, domesticated animals, some rodents that have leaned to take advantage oif the resources humans provide) have benefited from the changes humans have made; while other species (hardwood trees, many large predators) have suffered because of those changes.  If humans were removed from the planet, grasses would lose out, but trees would win; sheep would lose, but big cats would win.

As for global warming, this is only seen as a problem within the human context (the planet has been much warmer in the past than anything we experience today, but there were no humans around to grumble about it) – but if we lose the human species, then where is the problem with a warmer planet?

Certainly, there have been many attempt at human sterilisation.  In India, Indira Ghandi instigated a policy of voluntary sterilisation, except there was some doubt that it was always as voluntary as it was suggested.  China had (and maybe still has) a one child one family policy.  In Europe, very few countries are actually having enough children to sustain their current population.  Whether any of this actually provides a solution – I doubt it.  My own suspicion is that it may make the total population numbers look like they are decreasing, but it will so skew the age distribution within the population as to ultimately lead to a catastrophic collapse of the population, simply because we will have lots of old people who are beyond reproduction age, and relatively few people young enough to reproduce, and when the old die off, the population will crash in a very dramatic and frightening way.

Ofcourse, the issue I keep raising is that while people look at the human population, and ask what resources the human animal uses, people still ignore the ever increasing number of machines created by humans.  For the most part, it is not the human animal, with their requirement for some food, clothing, and shelter, that utilise the greatest resources; but the machines, whether they be aeroplanes or factories run by robots, that really use the greatest amount of resources.  Even if we reduce the human population to 10% of its present size, if those 10% continue to leverage there output by using ever more machines to replace the 90% of human animals that no longer exist, then how would you expect any reduction in resource usage?



George

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Offline science_guy

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #2 on: 25/09/2006 16:24:20 »
As george was just saying, That would help nothing.  And even if we stop the machines, we would only speed up the inevitible.  Because of human activity (decaying corn and farting cows releasing methane) and more recently, burning of fossil fuels, we have retained much of our heat through global warming.  The truth is, Humans have forestalled the next ice age for 5000 years now.  In other words, The second Ice age would of started at b.c. 3000.  Scientists predict that as soon as we run out of fossil fuels, or stop using them, the temperature will begin to catastrophically drop.  We have, remaining to us, 120 years, at best, left on this planet.

Other than that, How was your day? [:D][:D]

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #3 on: 28/09/2006 17:14:22 »
Ruddimann's view of pre-industrial global warming is a minority opinion. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

The more majority opinion is that the current interglacial was meant to be a long one so it wasn't supposed to have ended yet.

quote:
as soon as we run out of fossil fuels, or stop using them, the temperature will begin to catastrophically drop. We have, remaining to us, 120 years, at best, left on this planet.


Says who??

CO2 levels are likely to stay at elevated levels for thousands of years after we stop using fossil fuels and I doubt we will have a sudden dramatic ceasation of use of fossil fuels. Even if that did happen the warmest period would be at least a decade or two later.
 

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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #4 on: 28/09/2006 19:44:49 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
Ruddimann's view of pre-industrial global warming is a minority opinion. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

The more majority opinion is that the current interglacial was meant to be a long one so it wasn't supposed to have ended yet.



What interglacial - we are not in an interglacial - we are still in a trelatively very cold climate in comparison to most of geological time.  There has been a slight rise in temperature above the minimum, but we are well short of being in a warm period.

quote:

CO2 levels are likely to stay at elevated levels for thousands of years after we stop using fossil fuels and I doubt we will have a sudden dramatic ceasation of use of fossil fuels. Even if that did happen the warmest period would be at least a decade or two later.



How do you work out such a long period for CO2 recycling - I would have thought that given that even with the raised levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, they are still only a minute proportion of the amount of O2 (all of which is converted from CO2), that it should not take long at all for the any excess CO2 (of the very slight amount we talk about) to also be converted to O2.

Even the web site you quote (which certainly does not look like it is trying to underplay the impact of global warming) only talks abot 50 to 200 years to recycle the CO2, and I personally would be surprised if it took as long as that (although I claim no expertise for behind that opinion).



George
« Last Edit: 28/09/2006 19:48:36 by another_someone »

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #5 on: 29/09/2006 00:33:06 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone

quote:
Originally posted by crandles
Ruddimann's view of pre-industrial global warming is a minority opinion. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

The more majority opinion is that the current interglacial was meant to be a long one so it wasn't supposed to have ended yet.



What interglacial - we are not in an interglacial - we are still in a trelatively very cold climate in comparison to most of geological time.  There has been a slight rise in temperature above the minimum, but we are well short of being in a warm period.

quote:

CO2 levels are likely to stay at elevated levels for thousands of years after we stop using fossil fuels and I doubt we will have a sudden dramatic ceasation of use of fossil fuels. Even if that did happen the warmest period would be at least a decade or two later.



How do you work out such a long period for CO2 recycling - I would have thought that given that even with the raised levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, they are still only a minute proportion of the amount of O2 (all of which is converted from CO2), that it should not take long at all for the any excess CO2 (of the very slight amount we talk about) to also be converted to O2.

Even the web site you quote (which certainly does not look like it is trying to underplay the impact of global warming) only talks abot 50 to 200 years to recycle the CO2, and I personally would be surprised if it took as long as that (although I claim no expertise for behind that opinion).



George




>What interglacial?

We are at the left hand side of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Ice_Age_Temperature.png

So we are warmer than most of the last 450,000 years.

If you go back more than 5 million years http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_temperature_record
yes we are colder than most of geologic time but I think the last 450,000 years is more relevant than what happened over 5 million years ago.

>How do you work out such a long period for CO2 recycling

Try http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/03/how-long-will-global-warming-last/

A couple of hundred years is a typical lifetime estimate. However there is a small proportion that takes a long time to disappear.
 

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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #6 on: 29/09/2006 01:29:23 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
>What interglacial?

We are at the left hand side of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Ice_Age_Temperature.png

So we are warmer than most of the last 450,000 years.



Interesting how different sources give different answers (but it also depends upon how you define an ice age).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_ages
quote:

An ice age is a period of long-term downturn in the temperature of Earth's climate, resulting in an expansion of the continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers ("glaciation"). Glaciologically, ice age is often used to mean a period of ice sheets in the northern and southern hemispheres; by this definition we are still in an ice age (because the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets still exist). More colloquially, when speaking of the last few million years, ice age is used to refer to colder periods with extensive ice sheets over the North American and Eurasian continents: in this sense, the last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago. This article will use the term ice age in the former, glaciological, sense; and use the term glacial periods for colder periods during ice ages and interglacial for the warmer periods.
Many glacial periods have occurred during the last few million years, initially at 40,000-year frequency but more recently at 100,000-year frequencies. These are the best studied. There have been four major ice ages in the further past.



So it depends upon whether you regard an ice age as an absolute term, meaning that there is permanent ice somewhere on the planet (a situation that persists today), or a relative term, merely meaning that the era is colder than the periods of time before and after.

The problem with the relative aspect of it is which periods of time do you judge to be sufficiently significant to be regarded as a warmer of cooler period.  What about the mini-ice age of the 17th century – do you include that in your comparative assessment of an 'ice age'?

quote:
Originally posted by crandles
If you go back more than 5 million years http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_temperature_record
yes we are colder than most of geologic time but I think the last 450,000 years is more relevant than what happened over 5 million years ago.



This is not completely true.

It is certainly true that the period over 5 million years ago was warmer, but:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_ages
quote:

The earliest hypothesized ice age is believed to have occurred around 2.7 to 2.3 billion (109) years ago during the early Proterozoic Age.
The earliest well-documented ice age, and probably the most severe of the last 1 billion years, occurred from 800 to 600 million years ago (the Cryogenian period) and it has been suggested that it produced a Snowball Earth in which permanent sea ice extended to or very near the equator. It has been suggested that the end of this ice age was responsible for the subsequent Cambrian Explosion, though this theory is recent and controversial.
A minor ice age occurred from 460 to 430 million years ago, during the Late Ordovician Period.
There were extensive polar ice caps at intervals from 350 to 260 million years ago, during the Carboniferous and early Permian Periods, associated with the Karoo Ice Age.
The present ice age began 40 million years ago with the growth of an ice sheet in Antarctica, but intensified during the Pleistocene (starting around 3 million years ago) with the spread of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. Since then, the world has seen cycles of glaciation with ice sheets advancing and retreating on 40,000 and 100,000 year time scales. The last glacial period ended about 10,000 years ago.



quote:
Originally posted by crandles
>How do you work out such a long period for CO2 recycling

Try http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/03/how-long-will-global-warming-last/

A couple of hundred years is a typical lifetime estimate. However there is a small proportion that takes a long time to disappear.



There numbers are based upon an interesting assumption:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/03/how-long-will-global-warming-last/
quote:

Thus land-based plant sequestration should not be regarded as permanent.



While I accept that the simple argument that forests will convert CO2 to O2 is simplistic, because forests are a complex environment that is generally carbon neutral; but equally, one has to ask where did the oxygen come from – free oxygen does not come from CO2 that is dissolved in the oceans, nor CO2 that has been converted into carbonate, since neither of these means will free the oxygen back into the atmosphere.

They may be correct that this is not land based plants, but maybe marine algae that is doing this rather than land based plants, but they seem to disregard any aspect of photosynthesis at all in their calculations.  I agree with their assessment that it probably is not the forests, but to jump from that to dismissing all photosynthesis seems to me to be absurd.  The bottom line has to be that every mole of O2 in the atmosphere started some time as a mole of CO2 (with maybe a minute amount of O2 created from the reduction of metal oxides – if any at all), and that reduction of CO2 to O2 must come about through photosynthesis, thus to totally disregard all photosynthesis as irrelevant simply because the photosynthesis in a forest environment does not achieve the required function seems to be incomprehensible to me.



George

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #7 on: 29/09/2006 12:56:47 »
mini-ice age clearly indicates it is not a full ice age. I am not particularly interested in discussing the exact amount of warming to meet some idea of a relative warm period. I think I have explained what I meant about being in a warm period compared with most of the last 450,000 years.

Not sure what wasn't completely true :?


"Thus land-based plant sequestration should not be regarded as permanent." looks to me more like a conclusion than an assumption. It is in comment 8 not the article if anyone wants to look for it.

I disagree that it is ignoring photosynthesis. It just happens to be not very relevant. At equilibrium plant photosynthesis is matched by plant decay, animal respiration and soil decomposition. If you add a slug of new CO2 to the atmosphere, for a brief period the land takes up more carbon. However the amount of carbon that can be taken up by land is limited and a new equilibrium will be reached. This is small compared with the ocean uptake. Between land and ocean around 75% is taken up in a short period of a few hundred years. The remaining 25% takes much longer.

I don't see why you have to ask where the oxygen comes from. The oxygen in the atmosphere is a massive store that represents millions of years of turnover from O2 to CO2 and back. The turnover isn't important it is the net balance. It isn't the O2 we are interested in it is the carbon.
« Last Edit: 29/09/2006 13:01:16 by crandles »
 

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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #8 on: 29/09/2006 13:30:26 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
Not sure what wasn't completely true :?


You had stated that you accepted that “if you go back more than 5 million years yes we are colder than most of geologic time “ - I was merely saying that just as there were many times that we have been warmer (very much warmer) than we are today, there were also many periods when we were colder than we are today, and simply seeing the Earth's climate as a one way process (i.e. overall cooling) with some noise thrown in, is too simplistic.  There are wide swings in both directions, and always have been, and we are nowhere near either extreme at present.  Similarly, simply to say that we should ignore anything older the 450,000 years as being inherently different from today (although one can argue that history, even the Earth's climate, never quite repeats itself), seems an arbitrary distinction to make.
quote:

I disagree that it is ignoring photosynthesis. It just happens to be not very relevant. At equilibrium plant photosynthesis is matched by plant decay, animal respiration and soil decomposition. If you add a slug of new CO2 to the atmosphere, for a brief period the land takes up more carbon. However the amount of carbon that can be taken up by land is limited and a new equilibrium will be reached. This is small compared with the ocean uptake. Between land and ocean around 75% is taken up in a short period of a few hundred years. The remaining 25% takes much longer.



If you regard it as irrelevant, then you seem in effect to be justifying that it is ignored.  I certainly don't see it being taken into account.

quote:

I don't see why you have to ask where the oxygen comes from. The oxygen in the atmosphere is a massive store that represents millions of years of turnover from O2 to CO2 and back. The turnover isn't important it is the net balance. It isn't the O2 we are interested in it is the carbon.


A balance is only something we can ignore if we understand how that balance in maintained, and how it changes.
If humans are creating lots of CO2 through combustion, then they must in fact be using up lots of O2.  If you then make the assertion that O2 and CO2 are in permanent balance, then it must follow that there is a process where the O2 that the humans have used is somehow replenished, and this being from most probably by the reduction of that same CO2 back to O2 (through photosynthesis).  If the CO2 is not converted back to O2, then the O2/CO2 cycle is not in balance.
The absorption of CO2 by the oceans and by carbonate rocks does little to maintain the balance between O2 and CO2 (the processes are happening without regard to the levels of O2 in the atmosphere, excepting insofar as you may judge that in the extreme, an anoxic environment would not support shellfish and other living forms that convert CO2 to carbonates).
It has to be remembered that the only significant means of creating free oxygen on this planet is through photosynthesis, and so one must see the creation of free oxygen as a direct measure of the rate of photosynthesis, and the amount of free oxygen on the planet as a store of historic CO2 that has been converted to O2.  Clearly, the turnover is critical in any assessment of the pricess, since it indicates how responsive the system may be to environmental changes.




George

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #9 on: 29/09/2006 15:30:08 »
I said "yes we are colder than most of geologic time" I didn't say colder than all of geologic time over 5 million years ago.

I also said "I think the last 450,000 years is *more* relevant than what happened over 5 million years ago". I didn't say the last 450,000 years is relevant and over 5 million years ago is irrelevant. Therefore I don't think I did say ignore the periods over 5 million years ago. As to whether it is more relevant, note that the post I was answering mentioned having only 120 years left.

quote:
A balance is only something we can ignore if we understand how that balance in maintained, and how it changes.


Fair enough and I guess there is some room for disagreement over how well all the processes are understood. Some are known better than others and we know more about situation similar to the present than about situation different from present. But generally I thing the processes are known well enough that intellegent estimates are good enough to make reasonable models that are far from perfect but good enough to be useful.

quote:

If humans are creating lots of CO2 through combustion, then they must in fact be using up lots of O2. If you then make the assertion that O2 and CO2 are in permanent balance, then it must follow that there is a process where the O2 that the humans have used is somehow replenished



Why would anyone make that assertion? We are trying to see what happens to CO2 so assuming a permanent balance seems very odd. If the O2 stock was changing significantly maybe that would have an effect on the processes of O2 to CO2 and CO2 to O2. However the stock of O2 is so huge
it is changing but not changing significantly.

quote:


The absorption of CO2 by the oceans and by carbonate rocks does little to maintain the balance between O2 and CO2 (the processes are happening without regard to the levels of O2 in the atmosphere, excepting insofar as you may judge that in the extreme, an anoxic environment would not support shellfish and other living forms that convert CO2 to carbonates).
 


As O2 is not in balance but staying practically constant, any change in ratio of CO2 to O2 is due to changes in CO2. If ocean absorbtion is taking up 75% of the extra CO2 we are producing, how do you decide that is doing "little to maintain the balance"?

I still don't see the relevance of O2.

quote:

It has to be remembered that the only significant means of creating free oxygen on this planet is through photosynthesis, and so one must see the creation of free oxygen as a direct measure of the rate of photosynthesis, and the amount of free oxygen on the planet as a store of historic CO2 that has been converted to O2. Clearly, the turnover is critical in any assessment of the pricess, since it indicates how responsive the system may be to environmental changes.



So ???

I still don't see the relevance of O2.
 

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Offline science_guy

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #10 on: 29/09/2006 15:49:13 »
quote:
CO2 levels are likely to stay at elevated levels for thousands of years after we stop using fossil fuels and I doubt we will have a sudden dramatic ceasation of use of fossil fuels. Even if that did happen the warmest period would be at least a decade or two later.


part of the reason the temperature will drop is because of the lack of heat from the combustion of fossil fuels.  The reactions do produce heat, and that is part of what has kept this planet warm.  Without that, the temperature will fall, because the orbit that alters the earth enough to cause the ice age, is well into the cycle and it will not have the immediate benifit of hot sun.

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #11 on: 29/09/2006 16:20:05 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
quote:

If humans are creating lots of CO2 through combustion, then they must in fact be using up lots of O2. If you then make the assertion that O2 and CO2 are in permanent balance, then it must follow that there is a process where the O2 that the humans have used is somehow replenished



Why would anyone make that assertion? We are trying to see what happens to CO2 so assuming a permanent balance seems very odd. If the O2 stock was changing significantly maybe that would have an effect on the processes of O2 to CO2 and CO2 to O2. However the stock of O2 is so huge
it is changing but not changing significantly.

quote:


The absorption of CO2 by the oceans and by carbonate rocks does little to maintain the balance between O2 and CO2 (the processes are happening without regard to the levels of O2 in the atmosphere, excepting insofar as you may judge that in the extreme, an anoxic environment would not support shellfish and other living forms that convert CO2 to carbonates).
 


As O2 is not in balance but staying practically constant, any change in ratio of CO2 to O2 is due to changes in CO2. If ocean absorbtion is taking up 75% of the extra CO2 we are producing, how do you decide that is doing "little to maintain the balance"?

I still don't see the relevance of O2.



I shall be brief, but merely try and clarify the following point:

Atmospheric O2 is 209,460 ppmv
Atmospheric CO2 is 381 ppmv
If 0.18% of the O2 in the atmosphere is converted to CO2, that is a 100% rise in CO2.  If all of the CO2 in the atmosphere were to be converted to O2, it would only represent 0.18% change in the volume of O2 in the atmosphere.
Are we sure that the volume of O2 in the atmosphere has remained constant to within 0.1% (i.e. less that 1 part per thousand change in total volume, or more accurately, in the number of moles, since volume can also vary because of changes in temperature and pressure) tolerance over geological time (or even within recent times)?



George

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #12 on: 29/09/2006 16:23:24 »
quote:
Originally posted by science_guy

quote:
CO2 levels are likely to stay at elevated levels for thousands of years after we stop using fossil fuels and I doubt we will have a sudden dramatic ceasation of use of fossil fuels. Even if that did happen the warmest period would be at least a decade or two later.


part of the reason the temperature will drop is because of the lack of heat from the combustion of fossil fuels.  The reactions do produce heat, and that is part of what has kept this planet warm.  Without that, the temperature will fall, because the orbit that alters the earth enough to cause the ice age, is well into the cycle and it will not have the immediate benifit of hot sun.





The reactions produce heat but it is negligible. It is the carbon dioxide and other greenhose gasses' effect on radiative balance that matters.

See http://www.climateprediction.net/board/viewtopic.php?t=2723

Orbital cycles take thousands of years so you should expect changes to be slow. If you are interested in what happens in the next 100 years or so then it is the greenhouse gas levels that matter. I see little chance of 60% cuts in greenhouse emissions in the next 30 years so greenhouse gas levels will keep rising for at least that long and the warmest period will be well after the peak greenhouse gas levels.

 

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #13 on: 29/09/2006 16:27:40 »
the orbit cycles are entirely my point.  The orbit cycle started to enter the ice age at b.c. 3000.  That means the orbit has had 5000 years to change.  Sure the burning of fossil fuels is negligible, but even negligible amounts can add up to be a dominating resource.  The point is that humans will no longer be able to survive on the planet for very much long, regardless of how it happens.

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #14 on: 29/09/2006 16:30:57 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone

I shall be brief, but merely try and clarify the following point:

Atmospheric O2 is 209,460 ppmv
Atmospheric CO2 is 381 ppmv
If 0.18% of the O2 in the atmosphere is converted to CO2, that is a 100% rise in CO2.  If all of the CO2 in the atmosphere were to be converted to O2, it would only represent 0.18% change in the volume of O2 in the atmosphere.
Are we sure that the volume of O2 in the atmosphere has remained constant to within 0.1% (i.e. less that 1 part per thousand change in total volume, or more accurately, in the number of moles, since volume can also vary because of changes in temperature and pressure) tolerance over geological time (or even within recent times)?



George




Why do we want to be sure that the moles of O2 has remained constant to with .1%? That would hardly have much effect on CO2 to O2 or on O2 to CO2.

If it was varying more than .1% what would that mean? Well it would probably be to do with other reactions other than the O2 to CO2 and CO2 to O2 reaction. Why? because we know CO2 has not changed by 50% or more recently.

So what has this got to do with what we are discussing?
 

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #15 on: 29/09/2006 16:50:11 »
quote:
Originally posted by science_guy

the orbit cycles are entirely my point.  The orbit cycle started to enter the ice age at b.c. 3000.  That means the orbit has had 5000 years to change.  Sure the burning of fossil fuels is negligible, but even negligible amounts can add up to be a dominating resource.  The point is that humans will no longer be able to survive on the planet for very much long, regardless of how it happens.





Read my earlier reply. We are not sure that "The orbit cycle started to enter the ice age at b.c. 3000". If you start by assuming there is one 100,000 year cycle then it does look as if we are overdue for an ice age. However, it is more complex than that and it looks like that is a bad assumption. There are cycles at 41,000, 102,000 and 22,000 years. It looks like the 41,000 ought to be the dominant cycle but the proxy records show something more like a 100,000 year cycle. The majority view is that the current warm period is supposed to be long one and therefore the ice age is not overdue.

Even if it was overdue the effect is slow and perhaps it could be more than offset by greenhouse gas effects for at least a couple of centuries and perhaps for a whole 41,000 year cycle.

I think your posts are inappropriately doom laden. I don't see the tropics getting as cold as greenland or greenland getting hotter than the tropics. Therefore I believe the conditions for humans to survive will remain. It isn't clear that civilisation would survive dramatic changes.

I doubt the changes will be that dramatic enough to cause civilisation to collapse so I view that as an extreme possibility. By contrast, your posts say *will* not may and I think that is untenable.
 

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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #16 on: 30/09/2006 18:54:12 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
Why do we want to be sure that the moles of O2 has remained constant to with .1%? That would hardly have much effect on CO2 to O2 or on O2 to CO2.

If it was varying more than .1% what would that mean? Well it would probably be to do with other reactions other than the O2 to CO2 and CO2 to O2 reaction. Why? because we know CO2 has not changed by 50% or more recently.

So what has this got to do with what we are discussing?



I was not suggesting that the change in volume of O2 was .1% or greater, I was suggesting that if we are not able to tell if the volume remained constant to with .1%, then clearly, even smaller changes are even less likely to have been noticed.
A change in volume of 0.06% would be enough to explain a 30% change in CO2 volume, or to absorb what might have amounted to a 30% change in CO2 volume (I believe that some there are some who consider that the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere since the levels in pre-industrial times to be in the order of 30%, and I would have no reason to contradict them).



George

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #17 on: 30/09/2006 22:56:26 »
This seems to have started with

quote:

While I accept that the simple argument that forests will convert CO2 to O2 is simplistic, because forests are a complex environment that is generally carbon neutral; but equally, one has to ask where did the oxygen come from



I am no nearer to understanding why 'one has to ask where did the oxygen come from'.



I think these numbers could be a little out of date. I think human fossil fuel use was 7GT several years ago so 5.5 looks a little on the low side. Despite this, I think we understand the processes well enough to make intelligent estimates of how the numbers will change as the CO2 level increases. Models suggest that the carbon in vegetation has been increasing but is likely to soon start decreasing.

If the best way of measuring the CO2 level is from ice cores then I don't see why you have to bother with an non optimal method of trying to measure the O2 level or worrying about where the O2 comes from.



 

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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #18 on: 01/10/2006 22:43:46 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
I am no nearer to understanding why 'one has to ask where did the oxygen come from'.



I think these numbers could be a little out of date. I think human fossil fuel use was 7GT several years ago so 5.5 looks a little on the low side. Despite this, I think we understand the processes well enough to make intelligent estimates of how the numbers will change as the CO2 level increases. Models suggest that the carbon in vegetation has been increasing but is likely to soon start decreasing.

If the best way of measuring the CO2 level is from ice cores then I don't see why you have to bother with an non optimal method of trying to measure the O2 level or worrying about where the O2 comes from.



I, on the other hand, do not understand exactly what the image is trying to say (that a picture says a thousand words does not mean that the thousand words actually make any sense).

How, in that picture, would you extract a total figure for all of the CO2 that is converted to O2 through photosynthesis (maybe I am just not looking at the right bot to see the number, and am simply being a total fool, but I cannot see the number).

What are the margins of error for these figures?



George

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #19 on: 02/10/2006 00:03:17 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone
I, on the other hand, do not understand exactly what the image is trying to say (that a picture says a thousand words does not mean that the thousand words actually make any sense).

How, in that picture, would you extract a total figure for all of the CO2 that is converted to O2 through photosynthesis (maybe I am just not looking at the right bot to see the number, and am simply being a total fool, but I cannot see the number).

What are the margins of error for these figures?



George




The figure for photosynthesis is 121.3. That figure is for the carbon cycle and the units are Gigatonnes of carbon per year. To convert to weight of CO2 you would multiply by 44/12.

Margins of error is a good question and I suspect some are quite large but there are lots of correlations in the errors:

A reason I introduced the pic was to show the different timescales involved. For carbon in the atmosphere only lasts 750/(121.3+.5+90) = 3.5 years. For Marine Biota 3/50=.06.

A similar calculation can be done for oxygen and I now think it looks like about 10,000 years (not millions as I said earlier sorry).

Clearly the timeframes are very different.

I would assume the figures are quoted to an appropriate number of significant figures. So a figure like 60 could be out by around 10. We may not know all these figures accurately. It is the net movement in the stores that are the important thing. So for marine biota 50-40-6-4=0 and we know that 0 is pretty close because if it was 0.1 that would represent doubling or completely disappearing in 30 years.

I therefore believe we know how the quantity stored in each form is changing far better than we know some of the figures in that pic.

 

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #20 on: 02/10/2006 00:56:01 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
The figure for photosynthesis is 121.3. That figure is for the carbon cycle and the units are Gigatonnes of carbon per year. To convert to weight of CO2 you would multiply by 44/12.


I see where the figure of 121.3 is shown, but is that total photosynthesis.  The image seems to indicate the number of gigatonnes absorbed by trees.  It is not even clear if that is the figure including all land plants (grasses, mosses, etc.), let alone marine vegetation (including algae).
quote:

A reason I introduced the pic was to show the different timescales involved. For carbon in the atmosphere only lasts 750/(121.3+.5+90) = 3.5 years.


Do I understand from this statement that within 3.5 years all of the CO2 in the atmosphere (at present levels) will be turned over (i.e. mostly converted to O2, or to carbonates, or to carbonic acid) ?
quote:

A similar calculation can be done for oxygen and I now think it looks like about 10,000 years (not millions as I said earlier sorry).



Given the much greater amount of O2 in the atmosphere than CO2, I would expect it to take longer to turn over (if that is what your figure is trying to say), although I am surprised if takes almost 3000 times as long to turn over 550 times as much O2 as there is CO2.  You may suggest that this indicates that only 18% of the CO2 cycle actually is part of the O2 cycle, and thus 82% of the CO2 cycle would be through other pathways, but I will need convincing that these figures are complete enough to make this claim.  How are these lifetimes measured?
Nonetheless, even if the photosynthesis path only accounts for 18% of CO2 in the atmosphere, it cannot be ignored as insignificant, even if it is the lesser proportion.  Since the figures seem to suggest that human input of carbon into the atmosphere amounts to only 0.7% of the carbon already in the atmosphere (even if that figure is slightly higher now, it has not changed by orders of magnitude), the 18% of turnover that is caused by photosynthesis can be enough that a slight change in that figure can have a sufficient impact to absorb the output created by humans.




George

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #21 on: 02/10/2006 14:16:37 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone
I see where the figure of 121.3 is shown, but is that total photosynthesis.  The image seems to indicate the number of gigatonnes absorbed by trees.  It is not even clear if that is the figure including all land plants (grasses, mosses, etc.), let alone marine vegetation (including algae).



I think it includes all land plants. I am unsure of the extent which marine vegitation uses dissolved CO2. If 100% dissolved CO2 then I think you can take the 50 as being marine photosynthesis.


quote:

Do I understand from this statement that within 3.5 years all of the CO2 in the atmosphere (at present levels) will be turned over (i.e. mostly converted to O2, or to carbonates, or to carbonic acid) ?



Depends what you mean by all. If you really mean 'all' then no lots persists for decades. If by all you mean the same total amount then yes. Clearly some is turned over a few times within 3.5 years and lots are not removed within 3.5 years.


quote:


Given the much greater amount of O2 in the atmosphere than CO2, I would expect it to take longer to turn over (if that is what your figure is trying to say), although I am surprised if takes almost 3000 times as long to turn over 550 times as much O2 as there is CO2.  You may suggest that this indicates that only 18% of the CO2 cycle actually is part of the O2 cycle, and thus 82% of the CO2 cycle would be through other pathways, but I will need convincing that these figures are complete enough to make this claim.  How are these lifetimes measured?

Nonetheless, even if the photosynthesis path only accounts for 18% of CO2 in the atmosphere, it cannot be ignored as insignificant, even if it is the lesser proportion.  Since the figures seem to suggest that human input of carbon into the atmosphere amounts to only 0.7% of the carbon already in the atmosphere (even if that figure is slightly higher now, it has not changed by orders of magnitude), the 18% of turnover that is caused by photosynthesis can be enough that a slight change in that figure can have a sufficient impact to absorb the output created by humans.



Edited out some rubbish, yes my 10,000 is wrong again. Oops sorry.

All I was trying to show was that the average times were very different. To me this makes saying 'but equally, one has to ask where did the oxygen come from' rather curious and made me ask what you meant but I don't seem to be getting anywhere.

That 0.7% figure you mentioned (5.5/750) is the amount per year not in total. The CO2 level is 30% higher as you mentioned earlier.

For better figures we are putting 7gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere but when we measure the atmosphere only 4 gigatonnes is turning up. So there is a natural reaction of the system to try to restore the balance by absorbing 3gigatones. You would expect the 90 and 92 figures to be equal if the system was in equilibrium. By boosting the CO2 in the atmosphere by 30% you would expect more CO2 to be dissolved than released. Similarly the land is taking up some of the carbon (121.3+.5>60+60+1.6) However there are limits to how much carbon the land can take up before it gets back in balance and it is expected the land could soon become an net emitter rather than a sink.

Yes 'a slight change in [photosynethis] could have a sufficient impact to absorb the output created by humans'. However, it doesn't look likely - why hasn't it happened so far? A more reasonable interpretation is that the natural reaction is only 3 gigatonnes and we are currently overwhelming this with 7 gigatonnes of carbon. It may seem reasonable to suggest that the 3GT could grow as we move more than 30% above CO2 levels of 100 years ago, but there are suggestions that the land will become a net emitter soon. There are also limits to ocean absorbtion - how much can be absorbed before the buffering ability of the ocean is exhausted and it start to become more acidic more rapidly?
« Last Edit: 02/10/2006 22:46:27 by crandles »
 

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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #22 on: 02/10/2006 23:02:25 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
Depends what you mean by all. If you really mean 'all' then no lots persists for decades. If by all you mean the same total amount then yes. Clearly some is turned over a few times within 3.5 years and lots are not removed within 3.5 years.



OK, I accept (and was aware at the time) that the 3.5 years was an average – and as such reflected only about 50% of the total – but as you say, for the purposes of the comparison it was sufficient.  Sorry abut the loose use of words.

quote:

quote:
Originally posted by another_someone
Given the much greater amount of O2 in the atmosphere than CO2, I would expect it to take longer to turn over (if that is what your figure is trying to say), although I am surprised if takes almost 3000 times as long to turn over 550 times as much O2 as there is CO2.



Not sure where your 550 came from. 20% of the atmosphere compared to 380ppm is a ratio of around 50,000 not 550. Then you have got to mess about with the weight per volume/mole. My 10,000 could easily be wrong again.



209,460 ppmv / 381 ppmv  to my calculations comes to a ratio of 549.763 (i.e. approximately 550).


quote:

That 0.7% figure you mentioned (5.5/750) is the amount per year not in total. The CO2 level is 30% higher as you mentioned earlier.



I recognise the 0.7% was annual anthropogenic input; on the other hand, the 30% is not proven to be anthropogenic, or to what extent it may be anthropogenic.

quote:

For better figures we are putting 7gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere but when we measure the atmosphere only 4 gigatonnes is turning up. So there is a natural reaction of the system to try to restore the balance by absorbing 3gigatones.



Are you not jumping to conclusions?

Yes, we can say that we can measure 7 gigatonnes going in, and only 4 gigatonnes remaining in; but what can we say about how much would have been there if we had not put 7 gigatonnes in – we can say nothing.

We cannot say whether, if we had not pumped 7 gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, the atmosphere may have actually had a reduction of 3 gigatonnes over what it had before; or whether if would have had an increase of 4 gigatonnes anyway, whether or not we had pumped the 7 gigatonnes in.

What we can reasonably say is that the processes that extract CO2 from the atmosphere cannot be directly aware of the amount of CO2 that humans have pumped into the atmosphere.

The only way these processes can respond to human input of CO2 into the atmosphere would be:
  • They are impervious to any change humans make, and so in no way alter the amount of CO2 they annually remove from the atmosphere.  This clearly is not the case, since they are (as far as we can tell – and again, I am assuming, maybe erroneously, that other sources of CO2 have remained constant) removing 3 gigatonnes of CO2 more than they did before.
  • They are sensitive to the actual amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (i.e. the actual vapour pressure).
  • They are sensitive to the ratio of CO2 and some other gas (probably O2, since O2 is the output of photosynthesis, to which CO2 is the input, and most feedback relies on maintaining a balance between output and input) in the atmosphere.

If they are sensitive to the ratio of CO2 to some other gas, or susceptible to absolute vapour pressure, then what other factors may alter the balance point that effects this sensitivity?  Could the changes to CO2 levels in the atmosphere have more to do with other external factors (e.g. increases in temperature due to increases in temperature caused by increased solar output and reduced solar dimming) and much less to do with the actual amount of CO2 that humans create (which may be perfectly within the capacity of the system to absorb)?

quote:

 Yes 'a slight change in [photosynethis] could have a sufficient impact to absorb the output created by humans'. However, it doesn't look likely - why hasn't it happened so far? A more reasonable interpretation is that the natural reaction is only 3 gigatonnes and we are currently overwhelming this with 7 gigatonnes of carbon. It may seem reasonable to suggest that the 3GT could grow as we move more than 30% above CO2 levels of 100 years ago, but there are suggestions that the land will become a net emitter soon. There are also limits to ocean absorbtion - how much can be absorbed before the buffering ability of the ocean is exhausted and it start to become more acidic more rapidly?



If the issue is that the environmental system had enough slack to exactly absorb 3 gigatonnes of carbon in CO2 per year, and no more; it would seem a remarkably (to my view) unlikely scenario – why exactly 3 gigatonnes?  If it had just so much slack, then what we should see in the records is that each year, up until the point where human output exceeded 3 gigatonnes of carbon in CO2 there should have been zero increase in global CO2 levels, and each year subsequent to that point, we should have seen each tonne of additional anthropogenic CO2 reflected by exactly 1 tonne of additional CO2 in the atmosphere.  I am not aware that this is what has been observed.



George

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #23 on: 03/10/2006 11:54:35 »
Yes I was making a mess of my maths again.

quote:

I recognise the 0.7% was annual anthropogenic input; on the other hand, the 30% is not proven to be anthropogenic, or to what extent it may be anthropogenic.



Are you not jumping to conclusions?

Yes, we can say that we can measure 7 gigatonnes going in, and only 4 gigatonnes remaining in; but what can we say about how much would have been there if we had not put 7 gigatonnes in – we can say nothing.

We cannot say whether, if we had not pumped 7 gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, the atmosphere may have actually had a reduction of 3 gigatonnes over what it had before; or whether if would have had an increase of 4 gigatonnes anyway, whether or not we had pumped the 7 gigatonnes in.



It is true that for a single year, we wouldn't know if new sources or sinks to the tune of 7 gigatonnes had just arisen.

However, we have record of CO2 from ice cores going back hundreds of thousands of years. From this we know that the changes we are seeing now: A change from 300 to 380ppmv (~180gigatonnes)within 100 years is extremely unusual. It makes sense for the natural reaction to such a large change to be that the land and ocean to take up carbon. So it is possible for new sources or sink to have arisen to the tune of 180 gigatonnes, but for this to have happened at just the right time would be a really remarkable coincidence.

Some likely ways the system will respond:

*If the CO2 in atmosphere increase the amount of CO2 being dissolved by the oceans will increase (and CO2 releassed decrease) until the balance is restored.

*Extra CO2 in atmosphere will cause increase in photosynethis as one of the imputs has been increased. However there are limits to how long this can last for as there is a limit to the amount of carbon that can be put into vegetation. At some point that increase in vegetation starts to die off and rot.

So we would expect the processes to be sensitive to the amount of CO2 and possibly ratio to other gasses.

quote:
then what other factors may alter the balance point that effects this sensitivity?


There could be other things but we know from the ice core record that what is happening now is very unusual so to expect them to be significant at this time would be very odd.

quote:

If the issue is that the environmental system had enough slack to exactly absorb 3 gigatonnes of carbon in CO2 per year, and no more; it would seem a remarkably (to my view) unlikely scenario – why exactly 3 gigatonnes? If it had just so much slack, then what we should see in the records is that each year, up until the point where human output exceeded 3 gigatonnes of carbon in CO2 there should have been zero increase in global CO2 levels, and each year subsequent to that point, we should have seen each tonne of additional anthropogenic CO2 reflected by exactly 1 tonne of additional CO2 in the atmosphere. I am not aware that this is what has been observed.



I would expect that the amount has grown to 3gigatonnes per year slowly as the CO2 level has risen and the CO2 record is consistent with this. This is why I said "It may seem reasonable to suggest that the 3GT could grow as we move more than 30% above CO2 levels of 100 years ago"

I have pointed out why there are limits to the growth of that 3GT. I certainly don't think it is 'exactly 3 GT and no more'. Given the arguments for a limit to the growth of the 3GT I think it is foolishly optimistic to expect that 3GT to keep on growing so that we don't need to cut carbon emissions.
 

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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #24 on: 06/10/2006 02:28:36 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
It is true that for a single year, we wouldn't know if new sources or sinks to the tune of 7 gigatonnes had just arisen.



The issue is not whether a new source or sink had arisen, but how much variability exists within the existing sources and sinks.

quote:

However, we have record of CO2 from ice cores going back hundreds of thousands of years. From this we know that the changes we are seeing now: A change from 300 to 380ppmv (~180gigatonnes)within 100 years is extremely unusual.



While I am not saying that you are wrong, would you like to be more explicit.  Exactly how unusual?  How precise are our long term historic measurements?  Can we say that over a 60 million years or more that we know with precision exactly what happened from one century to the next (in fact, as far as I can see, most of our more precise data is over less than ½ million year period, a very short period over the history of the Earth, and it is not clear to me that even over that period we have the kind of precision that would tell us what was happening within any given century)?

quote:

It makes sense for the natural reaction to such a large change to be that the land and ocean to take up carbon. So it is possible for new sources or sink to have arisen to the tune of 180 gigatonnes, but for this to have happened at just the right time would be a really remarkable coincidence.

Some likely ways the system will respond:

*If the CO2 in atmosphere increase the amount of CO2 being dissolved by the oceans will increase (and CO2 releassed decrease) until the balance is restored.

*Extra CO2 in atmosphere will cause increase in photosynethis as one of the imputs has been increased. However there are limits to how long this can last for as there is a limit to the amount of carbon that can be put into vegetation. At some point that increase in vegetation starts to die off and rot.

So we would expect the processes to be sensitive to the amount of CO2 and possibly ratio to other gasses.



Direct solution into the oceans is unlikely to really provide an adequate response, particularly since any warming influence (whether as a consequence of greenhouse gases, or as a consequence of increased solar input – the latter of which we know we have been experiencing in recent centuries – would actually cause less CO2 to be dissolved into the oceans).

The real issue has to be, to my mind, around how vegetation (including single celled photosynthesising organisms) respond.  As you say, after a while these organisms will die, but what happens to them when they die?

Forests are fairly hopeless as sinks because they do indeed either get quickly eaten by bacteria, fungi, or animals.  Peat bogs are certainly better, since they are anaerobic and will not convert back to CO2.  The question then has to be what happens within the oceans?  If the dead vegetation can reach anaerobic conditions (i.e. fall into the depths of the ocean), then it is still possible they can avoid being converted back to CO2.  Similarly, if the about of animals that create carbonate shells increases, and these then fall to the depths, then that will remove carbon from the system.

All of the above do not assume any increase in photosynthesis, but simply a change in the context of the photosynthesis, and a reduction in the processes that convert the carbon back to CO2.  This may even happen simply because of the death of many organisms that would generate CO2 (e.g. a reduction in the number of plant eating animals).  It is certainly true that as humans grow vegetation for their own purposes, they do deliberately try and prevent other wildlife from consuming it (unlike when humans create forests and nature reserves, where they deliberately encourage wild life to eat the vegetation).

quote:

I would expect that the amount has grown to 3gigatonnes per year slowly as the CO2 level has risen and the CO2 record is consistent with this. This is why I said "It may seem reasonable to suggest that the 3GT could grow as we move more than 30% above CO2 levels of 100 years ago"

I have pointed out why there are limits to the growth of that 3GT. I certainly don't think it is 'exactly 3 GT and no more'. Given the arguments for a limit to the growth of the 3GT I think it is foolishly optimistic to expect that 3GT to keep on growing so that we don't need to cut carbon emissions.



But it still seems like an arbitrary assumption.



George

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #25 on: 06/10/2006 12:12:05 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone

quote:
Originally posted by crandles
It is true that for a single year, we wouldn't know if new sources or sinks to the tune of 7 gigatonnes had just arisen.



The issue is not whether a new source or sink had arisen, but how much variability exists within the existing sources and sinks.



Or either or a combination.

quote:

quote:

However, we have record of CO2 from ice cores going back hundreds of thousands of years. From this we know that the changes we are seeing now: A change from 300 to 380ppmv (~180gigatonnes)within 100 years is extremely unusual.



While I am not saying that you are wrong, would you like to be more explicit.  Exactly how unusual?  How precise are our long term historic measurements?  Can we say that over a 60 million years or more that we know with precision exactly what happened from one century to the next (in fact, as far as I can see, most of our more precise data is over less than ½ million year period, a very short period over the history of the Earth, and it is not clear to me that even over that period we have the kind of precision that would tell us what was happening within any given century)?



Looking at



Lets be generous and say 4 similar sized spikes in 400,000 years. So the chances of one of those spikes starting within a 100 year period would seem to be in the region of 1000:1 against.

Saying 4 is generous because

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Carbon_Dioxide_400kyr.png
quote:

Throughout most of the record, the largest changes can be related to glacial/interglacial cycles within the current ice age.


quote:


Direct solution into the oceans is unlikely to really provide an adequate response, particularly since any warming influence (whether as a consequence of greenhouse gases, or as a consequence of increased solar input – the latter of which we know we have been experiencing in recent centuries – would actually cause less CO2 to be dissolved into the oceans).

The real issue has to be, to my mind, around how vegetation (including single celled photosynthesising organisms) respond.  As you say, after a while these organisms will die, but what happens to them when they die?

Forests are fairly hopeless as sinks because they do indeed either get quickly eaten by bacteria, fungi, or animals.  Peat bogs are certainly better, since they are anaerobic and will not convert back to CO2.  The question then has to be what happens within the oceans?  If the dead vegetation can reach anaerobic conditions (i.e. fall into the depths of the ocean), then it is still possible they can avoid being converted back to CO2.  Similarly, if the about of animals that create carbonate shells increases, and these then fall to the depths, then that will remove carbon from the system.

All of the above do not assume any increase in photosynthesis, but simply a change in the context of the photosynthesis, and a reduction in the processes that convert the carbon back to CO2.  This may even happen simply because of the death of many organisms that would generate CO2 (e.g. a reduction in the number of plant eating animals).  It is certainly true that as humans grow vegetation for their own purposes, they do deliberately try and prevent other wildlife from consuming it (unlike when humans create forests and nature reserves, where they deliberately encourage wild life to eat the vegetation).



Such things may indeed happen. So could other things that make things worse. For example the oceans are becoming more acidic and this may make it harder to create carbonate shells. So there may become less such organisms thereby decreasing the carbon transferred to the deep ocean.

It is more complex than I can hope to reason my way through. So I feel I have to rely on carbon cycle models built by experts. These suggest that the land will soon become a net emitter and the ocean will continue to only take up a proportion of the carbon released to the atmosphere.
 

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Offline VAlibrarian

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #26 on: 09/10/2006 01:50:54 »
I have to point out that 95% of climatologists agree with Crandles on this issue. We are not in any immediate danger of an ice age, but we are in immediate (100 to 200 years) danger of melting the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets and saying goodbye to Bangladesh and part of Florida. Why would you assume that eventually doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would somehow improve the world climate?
I get baffled by you guys after a while. I am forced to conclude that you have made a decision to disagree with the prevailing conclusion on global warming because you do not like to agree with a scientific consensus. Why is that? Clearly it is not due to religious convictions. Maybe you enjoy feeling superior, and agreeing with others does not provide you that feeling?

I am sorry if this sounds a bit personal. But really, they pay these climatologists to figure things out. Why do you think you know science better than they do?

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Offline VAlibrarian

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #27 on: 09/10/2006 02:01:00 »
Oh yes, i also needed to address the original posting. On a day like this one, I sympathize with the goal of drastically reducing the size of the human race. Since I had my vasectomy operation, I also have believed that sterilization (VOLUNTARY ONLY) can be a good thing, especially after having one or two kids (I have 2).

But really, most women in the third world would be thrilled to have fewer children. It's just that they have no access to free contraceptives and their husbands would rather lose them in childbirth than have smaller families. The only thing that needs to change is improved access despite the obstinate husbands.
I have despised George W. Bush for the past six years because his first act as president was to eliminate all funding for international family planning. Stupid. We expect ourselves in the  United States of America to solve all the world's problems, then we immediately refuse to help address the most serious problem of all. Far cheaper to prevent the conception of a human being than to feed, clothe, educate, combat, imprison, etc. the resulting person.

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #28 on: 09/10/2006 13:25:00 »
quote:
Originally posted by VAlibrarian
But really, most women in the third world would be thrilled to have fewer children.



Upon what evidence do you base this assertion?

I would argue that this is not by any means the case.  What I would agree with is that most educated women (i.e. the women you will probably get to talk to over the Internet, or by other means of modern communication) would love to have fewer children, and many do achieve this.

Human beings (women as well as men) like to feel they have achieved something.  For many uneducated rural women, they have little opportunity to achieve except by having children, so that is the achievement they seek.

It must also be said that children represent an old age pension – another reason why children are so important in communities that have no other way of looking after their elderly (in fact, at a communal level, even in the rich Western world, we still depend upon our young to look after our elderly, but this is at a communal level and not at a personal level, so individuals (like myself) can choose to opt out of having children, while hoping that other people's children may look after me in my old age).



George

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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #29 on: 09/10/2006 15:07:17 »
quote:
Originally posted by VAlibrarian
I have to point out that 95% of climatologists agree with Crandles on this issue. We are not in any immediate danger of an ice age, but we are in immediate (100 to 200 years) danger of melting the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets and saying goodbye to Bangladesh and part of Florida.



But true science (unlike much of environmentalism) is meritocratic, not democratic.

That environmentalism (inevitably so, as it is an 'ism') is more about politics than about science, and so understandably the argument that 95% of climatologists believe one theory over another (they are only theories) does carry political weight.

quote:

 Why would you assume that eventually doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would somehow improve the world climate?



This is the difference between us that you seem to find so difficult to comprehend – that I do not believe that in the grand scheme of things there can ever be in any absolute sense 'good' or 'bad', or 'better' or 'worse' climate.  Good and bad are ethical judgements, and how do you make ethical judgements about climate?  Climate is as it is, and it has never stood still, so why should it now?

Was the mini-ice age in the middle of the 17th a better or a worse climate than we have today?  Was the medieval warm period that preceded it a better or worse climate than that of the mini ice age?

Do you really think that as the climate cooled between the 11th to the 17th century, people did not suffer; or that as the climate warmed since then, that people did not suffer?  Do you really believe we can ever create a world where the climate does not change, or where that change will not present challenges?

Just look at the stories of floods in the bible (and while I am no great believer in the bible, it does seem very plausible that those floods mentioned are probably folk memories of real floods that happened).  Ofcourse, in the bible, the population believes the floods came about because they had displeased God in some way, so too the environmentalists believe that modern floods happen because we have displeased nature in some way.  The reality is that floods happen even in the absence of humanity, so it is not all our fault.

I am not saying that I am being totally nonchalant about the suffering of people, but the best way of addressing the suffering of people is to give them the means to survive adverse weather, and not by vainly  (and insanely) trying to prevent adverse weather.  Back to the biblical example – it does not suggest that Noah tried to argue with God not to send the floods, but that he went about building an ark to save himself and his family from the unavoidable climate change.  OK, as I said, I am no promoter of the bible, but that is one example that I agree with wholeheartedly.

quote:

I get baffled by you guys after a while. I am forced to conclude that you have made a decision to disagree with the prevailing conclusion on global warming because you do not like to agree with a scientific consensus. Why is that? Clearly it is not due to religious convictions. Maybe you enjoy feeling superior, and agreeing with others does not provide you that feeling?

I am sorry if this sounds a bit personal. But really, they pay these climatologists to figure things out. Why do you think you know science better than they do?



They pay politicians to make decisions on our behalf – does that mean we are obliged always to defer to political consensus?

There are two possible ways of looking at this.  One way would be to say that I am not a qualified scientists, and therefore have no opinion about scientific matters (in which case, what am I doing on a forum such as this?).

The other option is to say that I think for myself. I will listen to scientific opinion by all those who choose to give me their opinion (and this includes your good self, even if I choose to disagree with you), but ultimately my opinion must be that which makes sense to me, and I do simply act out of mere deference to someone else's wage packet.

Some people are by nature of the type that pay deference, and choose not to make judgements for themselves.  I am not of that creed.  That I am not of that creed makes it inevitable that there will be times when my own opinion contravenes democratic consensus.  But then, what value would there be in democratic consensus if everyone had the same opinion?

In fact, if it is your assertion that only professional climatologists have a right to an opinion on climate, then unless you are yourself a climatologist, that would in effect deny you the right to an opinion on the matter also.  This in effect would mean that you do not express your own opinion at all, but merely become a messenger for the opinion of others.



George
« Last Edit: 09/10/2006 15:54:36 by another_someone »

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #30 on: 09/10/2006 17:41:49 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone

This is the difference between us that you seem to find so difficult to comprehend – that I do not believe that in the grand scheme of things there can ever be in any absolute sense 'good' or 'bad', or 'better' or 'worse' climate.  Good and bad are ethical judgements, and how do you make ethical judgements about climate?  Climate is as it is, and it has never stood still, so why should it now?

Was the mini-ice age in the middle of the 17th a better or a worse climate than we have today?  Was the medieval warm period that preceded it a better or worse climate than that of the mini ice age?

Do you really think that as the climate cooled between the 11th to the 17th century, people did not suffer; or that as the climate warmed since then, that people did not suffer?  Do you really believe we can ever create a world where the climate does not change, or where that change will not present challenges?




No, we cannot create a world where the climate does not change, or where that change will not present challenges. However this does [size=18]not[/size=18] mean do nothing.

A cooling world would be worse than a warming world, so we should be thankful that it isn't cooling at the same rate that it is warming. The problem is the rate of change - it is high and likely to remain high if we do nothing. The more change there is over a short period the less likely that infrastructure will cope. There are plenty of examples of civilisations collapsing due to climate change.

Do you really think that we cannot make judgements like a fast rate of change is worse than a slow rate of change?


 

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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #31 on: 09/10/2006 18:22:10 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
Do you really think that we cannot make judgements like a fast rate of change is worse than a slow rate of change?



In an absolute sense, no I don't think we can make that judgements.

As a qualified statement, to say that that this or that is worse for a particular outcome, yes – but first you have to decide what that outcome you desire is, and somehow to justify that outcome.

Interestingly, since the start of this thread commences with the statement that some people consider further expansion or even stability of human population is undesirable, thus we were to accept this, must remove maximising human population success as a goal.



George

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #32 on: 09/10/2006 19:17:46 »
I think that is just weird (and I say that to try to keep within the limits of what I can say to a moderator). There are lots of things that are clearly bad about a fast rate of change.

The opening post also said

quote:
The extinction of any species by our hands is a crime beyond all other
crimes


To take things to the extreme, I don't think it is hard to say we don't want a process like:  

global warming >> ocean anoxia >> H2S outgassing process >> Ozone destruction
and each/each combination resulting in mass extinctions.

See http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=00037A5D-A938-150E-A93883414B7F0000&pageNumber=1&catID=2
 

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Offline VAlibrarian

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #33 on: 10/10/2006 01:22:21 »
As far as I can see, global warming has the potential to increae human mortality as well as the extinctions of other species. I am not open minded enough to accept this prospect with equanimity.

If you think of the human race as just a species like amoebas or rattlesnakes, it does not matter much if there are 6 billion of us or only say 2 billion. But as a member of the human race I have a certain feeling of loyalty and it is disturbing to me that global warming could put downward pressure on our population. It also disturbs me that conditions may eventually result (according to Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University in his book The Creation) in half of the other species of our planet disappearing. I disagree with those who say the survival of other species is not our business.

chris wiegard
chris wiegard

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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #34 on: 10/10/2006 14:18:33 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
I think that is just weird (and I say that to try to keep within the limits of what I can say to a moderator). There are lots of things that are clearly bad about a fast rate of change.

The opening post also said

quote:
The extinction of any species by our hands is a crime beyond all other
crimes


To take things to the extreme, I don't think it is hard to say we don't want a process like:  

global warming >> ocean anoxia >> H2S outgassing process >> Ozone destruction
and each/each combination resulting in mass extinctions.

See http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=00037A5D-A938-150E-A93883414B7F0000&pageNumber=1&catID=2



There is a difference between saying you don't want something, and saying that it is in some absolute sense 'bad'.  All I said was that one cannot talk in absolute terms about 'good' or 'bad', but only in relative terms by saying that you desire a particular outcome, and something will help or hinder that outcome.  I was merely arguing  against the unqualified use of the terms 'worse' or 'better', in that you did not say what the objective was that you felt these things were better or worse for, thus making it difficult to agree or disagree as to whether it would be better or worse for such an outcome.

One interesting aspect of the article is that it seems to make very different assumptions to the ones you have made earlier.  The article uses C12/C13 atmospheric ratios as an indication of the amount of photosynthesis – the assumption being that there is a constant amount of carbon that is shared between living organisms and the atmosphere, and thus the less C12 in relation to C13 in the atmosphere can be regarded as a direct measure of the amount of C12 taken up by living organisms.  This seems to contradict your earlier argument that the amount of carbon taken out of the atmosphere by photosynthesis is negligible, and that the dominant means of extracting carbon from the atmosphere is inorganic (which would affect the C12/C13 ratios differently and would likely confuse any measurement that ignored those factors).

What is also interesting (as you have yourself now mention) is the issue of anoxia – but this again contradicts your earlier insistence that we can ignore the oxygen levels in the atmosphere as telling us nothing useful regarding the carbon cycle (on the assumption that most of the carbon cycle had little to do with photosynthesis).  Then again, if O2 levels dropped so far as to allow anaerobic life to exist in most of the ocean, then we are talking about levels of CO2 that would be well above the most extreme that anyone has talked of coming about from industrial output (in fact, humans would be incapable of pushing CO2 levels to that extreme since the lack of atmospheric oxygen would make combustion extremely difficult, aside from the requirements for humans themselves).

In fact, as far as I can see, the scenario the article is talking about came about not so much directly by the increase of CO2, as by the reduction of O2 that allowed the growth of anaerobic bacteria.

Ofcourse, you might argue that the other factor that would have an effect is global warming (not CO2 necessarily, but any cause that would increase water temperatures).  The only thing to be said about that is that even with the present climate being warmer than any time since the middle ages, it is still very much cooler than at many other times when mass extinctions did not take place.

In any case, if one's main concern is the H2S that may be produced by anaerobic bacteria in the ocean, this could be addressed directly by seeking to control the growth of that bacteria in other ways (although the assumption seems to be that this would at most be only a threat some centuries hence, and direct intervention could be very much faster and more manageable that trying to manipulate atmospheric O2 and CO2 levels).

Ofcourse, the other interesting issue that was totally omitted within the article, which sought only to demonstrate why so much of aerobic life died, is why so much survived.  We have a continuity of species through the extinction events (most recently, although the extinction event of 65 million years ago may have killed T. Rex and all the large dinosaurs, it did not kill all dinosaurs for they became birds, let alone insects and crocodiles and early mammals and  many other species).  If we are looking to human survival as an objective, then we must understand why things survive just as much as understand why they die.  If we constantly only look at doomsday scenarios, and accept with defeatism that any seriously challenging environmental condition will automatically spell death for the human species, then we start with a disadvantage in trying to meet the inevitable challenges that are unavoidable.  We cannot stop environmental change, any more than our predecessors could, but we can learn how to adapt to it, as some of them did, while others did not.



George

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Offline crandles

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #35 on: 10/10/2006 16:51:27 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone

There is a difference between saying you don't want something, and saying that it is in some absolute sense 'bad'.  All I said was that one cannot talk in absolute terms about 'good' or 'bad', but only in relative terms by saying that you desire a particular outcome, and something will help or hinder that outcome.  I was merely arguing  against the unqualified use of the terms 'worse' or 'better', in that you did not say what the objective was that you felt these things were better or worse for, thus making it difficult to agree or disagree as to whether it would be better or worse for such an outcome.



There is a difference between absolute and relative but in this case it is so obvious as to not really make any practical difference.

quote:

One interesting aspect of the article is that it seems to make very different assumptions to the ones you have made earlier.  The article uses C12/C13 atmospheric ratios as an indication of the amount of photosynthesis – the assumption being that there is a constant amount of carbon that is shared between living organisms and the atmosphere, and thus the less C12 in relation to C13 in the atmosphere can be regarded as a direct measure of the amount of C12 taken up by living organisms.  This seems to contradict your earlier argument that the amount of carbon taken out of the atmosphere by photosynthesis is negligible, and that the dominant means of extracting carbon from the atmosphere is inorganic (which would affect the C12/C13 ratios differently and would likely confuse any measurement that ignored those factors).



Different techniques for different purposes and even different time periods can be appropriate.

Earlier we wanted to compare the 7 gigatonnes of carbon from fossil fuels to the net difference 121.3+.5-60-60-1.6=0.2 For this we didn't really care much what the 121.3 figure was exactly because there was more uncertainty in the 60 figures. We only wanted the change in the level of carbon in soil and vegetation and to consider how that was likely to change with time.

If you do want to know the 121.8 figure then using the C12/C13 ratio is appropriate.

quote:

What is also interesting (as you have yourself now mention) is the issue of anoxia – but this again contradicts your earlier insistence that we can ignore the oxygen levels in the atmosphere as telling us nothing useful regarding the carbon cycle (on the assumption that most of the carbon cycle had little to do with photosynthesis).  Then again, if O2 levels dropped so far as to allow anaerobic life to exist in most of the ocean, then we are talking about levels of CO2 that would be well above the most extreme that anyone has talked of coming about from industrial output (in fact, humans would be incapable of pushing CO2 levels to that extreme since the lack of atmospheric oxygen would make combustion extremely difficult, aside from the requirements for humans themselves).




Not really sure where I was insisting we can ignore the oxygen levels but it is quite possible I have said something either to that effect or has been misinterpreted. If you can go about measuring something in at least two different ways, then it can be sensible to use the method with a low margin of error (measuring the carbon)rather than a method with a high margin of error(measuring the oxygen). This is not the same as saying ignore the oxygen level for all purposes!

For considering anoxia you are going to consider the oxygen level.

quote:

In fact, as far as I can see, the scenario the article is talking about came about not so much directly by the increase of CO2, as by the reduction of O2 that allowed the growth of anaerobic bacteria.



I suspect the article made a rather dubious attempt to make it seem relevant to what was happening today. I also very much doubt greenhouse warming alone could cause such a scenario.

quote:

Of course, you might argue that the other factor that would have an effect is global warming (not CO2 necessarily, but any cause that would increase water temperatures).  The only thing to be said about that is that even with the present climate being warmer than any time since the middle ages, it is still very much cooler than at many other times when mass extinctions did not take place.


Yes it is a very extreme possibility which isn't likely. Trying to slip in 'warmer than any time since the middle ages'? There are lots of reconstructions and their best estimates all show a temperature for the medieval warm period cooler than today.


 

quote:

In any case, if one's main concern is the H2S that may be produced by anaerobic bacteria in the ocean, this could be addressed directly by seeking to control the growth of that bacteria in other ways (although the assumption seems to be that this would at most be only a threat some centuries hence, and direct intervention could be very much faster and more manageable that trying to manipulate atmospheric O2 and CO2 levels).



Certainly not my main concern; I did say it was an extreme when I introduced it. I felt it showed that it was easy to say a fast rate of change was bad and this was so self evident that it didn't need an excercise in deciding what was bad.


 

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another_someone

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #36 on: 13/10/2006 19:24:04 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
There is a difference between absolute and relative but in this case it is so obvious as to not really make any practical difference.



I suppose I still have a preference to making sure the terms of the debate are overt and not merely assumed, and each side assuming the other side is making exactly the same assumptions as itself.

quote:

Different techniques for different purposes and even different time periods can be appropriate.

Earlier we wanted to compare the 7 gigatonnes of carbon from fossil fuels to the net difference 121.3+.5-60-60-1.6=0.2 For this we didn't really care much what the 121.3 figure was exactly because there was more uncertainty in the 60 figures. We only wanted the change in the level of carbon in soil and vegetation and to consider how that was likely to change with time.

If you do want to know the 121.8 figure then using the C12/C13 ratio is appropriate.



And what about the 90/92 gigatonne exchange with the oceans, the 38 teratonnes of carbon stored in the deep oceans, or the (up to) 700 gigatonnes of organic carbon in the oceans.

There are so many variable, and I doubt that any are well known (we don't actually know very much about the deep oceans at all).

You say the O2 cycle and C12/C13 ratios are only appropriate for the 121.3 (I assume your 121.8 was a mistype), but by your own admission, you do not know if this takes into account what is going on in the oceans.  I am not even sure that it accurately monitors what is going on on the land, since I cannot imagine it can accurately monitor in any direct way the total amount of moss, grass, and other vegetation that lives in every nook and cranny on the surface of the Earth – the only measurements you can take are the indirect.


quote:

Not really sure where I was insisting we can ignore the oxygen levels but it is quite possible I have said something either to that effect or has been misinterpreted. If you can go about measuring something in at least two different ways, then it can be sensible to use the method with a low margin of error (measuring the carbon)rather than a method with a high margin of error(measuring the oxygen). This is not the same as saying ignore the oxygen level for all purposes!



But the point is that I cannot see how one can accurately measure the amount of carbon extracted from the atmosphere.  We can measure the amount of carbon remaining in the atmosphere, but to measure the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere one has to find ways of determining how much carbon might otherwise be in the atmosphere.  Since O2 is a residue created when carbon is removed from the atmosphere, it seems about the best indicator (as imperfect as it is) for indicating how much carbon would have been in the atmosphere, and thus give some indication of the capacity of the environment to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

quote:

Trying to slip in 'warmer than any time since the middle ages'? There are lots of reconstructions and their best estimates all show a temperature for the medieval warm period cooler than today.





The black line shows direct measurements that were taken since 1856.  These may be more accurate than the other colours, but it is not at all comparable to any of the historic indirect measurements.  All of the like for like measurements show a far greater ambiguity concerning the relative temperature between the middle ages and today.  That having been said, I accept that the red line, which seems to be based on tree ring data, stops at 1990, and so does not include the last 16 years.  Whether the last 16 years is sufficient basis for extrapolating a new trend, let alone a trend for which we have no comparable historic data, is another matter.

quote:

I did say it was an extreme when I introduced it. I felt it showed that it was easy to say a fast rate of change was bad and this was so self evident that it didn't need an excercise in deciding what was bad.



On the contrary.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=00037A5D-A938-150E-A93883414B7F0000&pageNumber=2&catID=2
quote:

As researchers continued to probe the data in recent years, however, they found that some things did not add up. New fossil analyses indicated that the Permian and Triassic extinctions were drawn-out processes spanning hundreds of thousands of years. And newly obtained evidence of the rise and fall of atmospheric carbon, known as carbon cycling, also seemed to suggest that the biosphere suffered a long-running series of environmental insults rather than a single, catastrophic strike.



This article does not seem to believe that a rapid change caused the extinctions, but rather that a persistent change (whether rapid or slow in origin) caused the extinctions events.

I am not saying that rate of change is insignificant, but that rate of change cannot alone tell us about outcome.

In any event, as I said before, these extinction events did not kill off all living organisms, and if our concern is for the survival of the human species (ofcourse, this is an arbitrary objective – which is why I was trying to be explicit above in indicating that we cannot judge 'good' and 'bad' until we decide what our objectives are), then we have to be more specific than merely to say that many species died – we need to know precisely how our own species would respond to a particular change.



George

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #37 on: 09/11/2006 18:20:50 »
http://www.pacificresearch.org/pub/sab/enviro/05_enviroindex/18_climate_change.html
Quote
  • Dispute continues over Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph, which purports to prove that the last 25 years have been the warmest in the last 1,000 years. Scientists have shown that a key step in the process used to generate Mann's graph is strongly biased in favour of finding hockey stick patterns even in lists of random numbers. One internationally renowned expert has called the graph “methodologically wrong” and “rubbish.”
  • July 2004 was the coolest July in the last four years. Perhaps that’s partly because the annual rate of increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is only about half of what is expected based on man-made emissions. Scientists believe the oceans are absorbing the missing half.
  • The arctic today, though warmer than it was in 1970, is colder than it was in 1930. In fact, temperatures in Greenland have fallen over the last 15 years. That is leading some scientists to believe that shifts in the wind, rather than temperature change, are responsible for any retreating of the arctic ice.

It is hard to settle on a results-oriented metric for what is happening with climate change in the United States or around the world. And it’s even harder to settle on one for the ongoing dispute about policy responses.

The best metric would be temperature. Everyone agrees that global temperatures have risen about 0.6 degrees celsius over the last century.1 But controversy remains about the accuracy of our recent measurements and the pace of warming. In 2004, there were more attempts to square one of the leading anomalies of climate measurement.

Ground-based temperature readings show a warming trend over the last 25 years. Satellite temperature measurements of the lower atmosphere (or troposphere) show only about half as much warming, even though most climate models suggest the lower atmosphere should warm even more than ground level. To understand this controversy, keep in mind that ground-level temperatures are taken the old fashioned way—with thermometers. They are then corrected for the “urban heat island effect,” i.e. the fact that most temperature readings are taken near cities and other human-altered areas where temperatures are higher than the average atmospheric temperatures for the planet as a whole.

Satellite temperature readings, by contrast, come from microwave readings rather than direct measurement. They require statistical interpretation because microwave readings yield different temperatures at varying elevations from the earth’s surface. Any data that can be interpreted statistically can be re-interpreted statistically to get a different result. This is exactly what a team led by Qiang Fu at the University of Washington did in a study published in Nature last May.2

By “correcting” for the cooling effect of the stratosphere (the next layer of the atmosphere above the troposphere), the satellite results can be brought into line with the surface thermometer readings. Case closed? Probably not. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama/Huntsville, disputes the Fu findings, and argues that the Fu team has over-corrected for stratospheric cooling and introduced new statistical errors into the analysis. Christy was one of the designers of the satellite observation system, and the first to point out, more than a decade ago, the discrepancy between satellite and surface temperature readings.

This is not the first attempt to reconcile the clashing temperature findings with statistical re-analysis, and it is unlikely to be the last. Another major statistical controversy over temperature readings erupted during the last two years.

As sports-minded readers know, the entire National Hockey League season was called off in 2004 on account of labor difficulties. While it is certainly coincidental, we can’t help but notice that the famous “hockey stick” graph that was supposed to be the “smoking gun” of global warming has quit working too. The dispute about Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph, which purports to prove that the last 25 years have been the warmest in the last 1,000 years, has intensified in recent months. Criticisms are rolling in from more scientists and statisticians.

As reported in last year’s edition, the Mann “hockey stick” graph would seem to negate what has always been referred to as the “medieval warm period” that preceded the “little ice age,” from roughly 1400 to 1850. New statistical critiques from Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, the duo that raised the first questions about the hockey stick, have furthered doubts about the accuracy of the hockey stick. Other climate scientists, including several affiliated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have reviewed the methodological dispute and come down on McIntyre and McKitrick’s side.

McIntyre and McKitrick have demonstrated that the computer algorithm used to generate the hockey stick graph is strongly biased in favor of finding hockey stick patterns even in lists of random numbers. Dr. Rob van Dorland, an IPCC lead author and climate scientist at the Dutch National Meteorological Agency, has said the controversy will “seriously damage the image of the IPCC.” Van Dorland added: “It is strange that the climate reconstruction of Mann passed both peer review rounds of the IPCC without anyone ever really having checked it.”

The most devastating critique comes from Hans von Storch, an IPCC contributing author and internationally-renowned expert in climate statistics at the Center for Coastal Research in Geesthacht, Germany. He has said the McIntyre-McKitrick critique is “entirely valid,” and that the hockey stick graph “contains assumptions that are not permissible. Methodologically it is wrong: rubbish.”

University of California physicist Richard Muller wrote in Technology Review that the hockey stick “turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics.” Everyone, including McIntyre and McKitrick, is quick to qualify their criticisms by saying the debunking of the hockey stick does not mean global warming is not happening today; merely that we still cannot confidently tell from the available data the exact temperature history of the last millennium.3

This is a vital point, because whenever anomalies call into question our mastery of climate science, the defenders of urgent action immediately repair to the “consensus.” Critics of specific aspects of climate science are usually portrayed—if not demonized—as climate change “skeptics” or deniers, on par with Holocaust deniers.

Science magazine stirred a furor late in the year with “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,”4 an article by Naomi Oreskes. She analyzed nearly 1,000 articles on climate science in scientific journals, and found none dissented from the “consensus” position. Oreskes concludes that “there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Climate scientists have repeatedly tried to make this clear. It is time for the rest of us to listen.”

    Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado pointed out on his website that Oreskes’s argument amounts to a poorly constructed straw man.5 Who, exactly, says the general consensus is wrong? Fred Singer, considered one of the leading “skeptics,” says: “In fact, the IPCC statement is in many ways a truism. There certainly must be a human influence on some features of the climate, locally if not globally.”

 Another leading “skeptic,” Pat Michaels, says: “It has been known since 1872 that water vapor and carbon dioxide are the principal ‘greenhouse’ gases in the atmosphere, and that increasing their concentration should elevate the temperature in the lower atmosphere. What has been a subject of contention ever since is the amount and character of the warming.” And Bjørn Lomborg has said: “There is no doubt that global warming is happening or that it is important. Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels will increase Earth’s temperature. That is likely to have an overall negative effect.”

This last statement from Lomborg is especially significant because he has raised the question in acute form of what should be done now about climate change relative to other current world problems. Even Oreskes herself admits that “Many details about climate interactions are not well understood, and there are ample grounds for continued research to provide a better basis for understanding climate dynamics. The question of what to do about climate change is also still open.” (Emphasis added.) Lomborg’s “Copenhagen Consensus” exercise last year ranked global warming low on a list of world priorities, for which he was roundly abused.

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC’s chairman, compared Lomborg to Hitler. “What is the difference between Lomborg’s view of humanity and Hitler’s?” Pachauri told a Danish newspaper. “If you were to accept Lomborg’s way of thinking, then maybe what Hitler did was the right thing.” Lomborg’s sin was merely to follow the consensus practice of economists in applying a discount to present costs for future benefits, and comparing the range of outcomes with other world problems alongside climate change.

It is hard to judge what is worse: Pachauri’s appalling judgment or his abysmal ignorance of basic economics. In either case, it is hard to have much confidence in the policy advice the IPCC might give. It might be added that when Pachauri compared Lomborg to Hitler, he ran afoul of what is known in the Internet blogosphere as “Godwin’s Law,” which holds that resorting to reductio ad Hitlerum is a sure sign that someone is losing an argument.

Are the “skeptical” questions about our mastery of climate science and its relation to the timing of policy very different from some of the caveats that appear in the “consensus” reports, such as the IPCC’s latest assessment? Consider, for example, this passage from the latest IPCC assessment report:

    There is an increasing realization that natural circulation patterns such as 'El Nino-Southern Oscillation' and 'North Atlantic Oscillation' play a fundamental role in global climate science and its interannual and longer-term variability.6

Or this, from a different section of the IPCC report:

    In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.7

To this can be added the judgment of the U.S. National Research Council, from whose 2001 report, “Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions,” one sentence was widely cited by climate-action enthusiasts: “The recent [climate] changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities.”

If, as keepers of the “consensus” view readily admit, “the question of what to do about climate change is still open,” then why this belabored attempt to bash a straw man, if not to build political pressure for the agenda of immediate carbon suppression? As the argument over our knowledge of climate science continues to go badly for alarmists, advocates of Kyoto-style carbon suppression are becoming increasingly shrill.

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Offline rosy

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Re: The Earths only solution
« Reply #38 on: 09/11/2006 18:54:49 »
<quote>I think that is just weird (and I say that to try to keep within the limits of what I can say to a moderator). </quote>
As no-one's picked up on the above yet I will... There is no distinction between what you can say to a mod and what you can say to anyone else. None. The mods are among the most frequent users of the forum and will read most if not actually all new posts... so being abusive will get picked up on whoever you're talking to (even if you don't get actively reported by someone else). Also, the mods don't, or at all events positively try not to, treat people differently who are abusive to them than to anyone else.

... somewhat rambling but I hope you'll take my point.
« Last Edit: 09/11/2006 19:00:42 by rosy »